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White Bean and Chicken Chili

Sometimes you learn lessons from your kids that are subtle and nuanced. The munchkins don’t even know how insightful they are. Then there’s my daughter, who draws you a picture to show you how keen her mind is. And that picture changes you. This happened to me as I was making dinner recently. I’ve debated sharing this drawing with you all because I vacillate between feeling proud of my daughter for her awareness of the things around her, and total guilt at being the worst mother on the planet. I figured I’d finally take the leap and share along with this chili recipe. It’s a warm meal that will keep you toasty as fall descends, turning the evenings cool and crisp. You’ll love it. After I share the picture, you’ll probably be glad you don’t live with Madison. She’s too smart for her own good.

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Sweet Spritz

Finally! I have found the ultimate solution to my spritz cookie dilemma. You may remember that last year when I posted this recipe, I admitted that I have a little trouble with the cookies flattening out. That I thought it might be the recipe, but as I’m the fourth generation to make them (and they taste AH-mazing) – I could not mess with the recipe. Well, I’ve discovered the problem. My spritz maker. For the past 5 years or so I have purchased a new spritz maker every year. For whatever reason, they just do not stand up to the abuse I dish out when making cookies. I’ve salivated over my mother’s electric model every year. The thing must be 30 years old and still just keeps on tickin’. I’ve purchased just about every brand/model out there and none of them created the beautifully shaped cookies of my youth.  I almost gave up all hope of ever recreating the perfectly shaped trees, wreaths and poinsettia my mom cranks out until this year I found the Sunbeam electric spritz maker at my local Target. Oh joy!! Same recipe as before, but with my new cookie press – every single buttery morsel is perfectly formed! Hallelujah!

Sweet Spritz

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks, well beaten for 3 minutes (eggs should be light-colored and frothy – drag a spoon thru them, it should leave a trail that doesn’t immediately close up)
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
colored sprinkles/food coloring – if desired

1. Cream butter well. Add powered sugar, extract and eggs. Beat until incorporated.
2. Add food coloring if desired. Add flour and salt and mix until incorporated.
3. Using a cookie press, press cookies out onto ungreased cookie sheets. Decorate as desired.
4. Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes.

*Pay close attention to these as they bake. You should not allow them to brown. Keep in mind that the 2nd/3rd batches to go into the oven will probably bake a little faster than the first batch did.

Bakerlady Gifts

I’m so very blessed. My family knows exactly what I like. And this Christmas I got a ton of new Bakerlady toys. Including (drumroll please) a 3/4 cup measuring cup! Woo-hoo!! I can’t wait to try out some of the recipes in my new cookbooks! There are a couple cookie recipes that look really interesting. And some dinners that I know my hubby is going to love. Also in my haul, a food mill, double boiler, two sets of mixing bowls, wooden spoons, got stocked up on sugar, new baking sheets and more measuring cups than I know what to do with. I also got new aprons, potholders and  kitchen towels. I’m totally set. [Read more…]

Not “Doren” – Banana Cream Pie

My dad is the best in the world. You only think yours is, because you didn’t have mine. I love him and he’s amazing. We had a special time together as a family tonight to celebrate my dad’s birthday. Instead of cake, I made him his favorite – Banana Cream Pie. I was going to name this pie “Doren” after my dad, but he doesn’t have much in common with a banana cream pie. Aside from it being his favorite – I can’t really come up with great comparisons or interesting observations about my dad and a cream pie. So, he’ll have to wait for his signature dish for the bakery. Maybe I’m just too exhausted right now to do justice for my dad’s pie — I mean, he’s kind of goofy like a monkey, and they like bananas too. Perhaps I shall revisit the possibility of this being the “Doren” tomorrow. For now, Happy Birthday Dad. I love you.

Birthday Banana Cream Pie

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Pear and Feta Salad

The dressing on this salad is out of this world. I wanted to eat it with a spoon. It is a little sweet and a little tangy and mixes perfectly with the richness of the feta and crisp sweetness of the pears. Fabulous!

I messed with the original recipe a bit because of family food issues, personal preferences and inability to find ingredients. The resulting salad was amazingly good. A perfect way to start off my dad’s special birthday dinner. [Read more…]

Baked Chicken Kiev

When I asked my dad what he wanted for his birthday dinner, he responded with a gleam in his eye “I love chicken Kiev”. I’d never even heard of chicken Kiev before, so I went to work finding the perfect recipe for it. Nothing I found seemed quite right on its own however, so I ended up combining a few together and came up with this recipe.

Chicken Kiev is, at its core, just chicken wrapped around butter. Breaded. And fried. Which is probably why it’s my dad’s favorite. Also why (I’m sure) my mom doesn’t make it for him more than about once every 5 years. There are lots of variations on what herbs are used, but the important one with the distinguishing flavor is tarragon. Classic chicken Kiev is fried, but I just couldn’t bring myself to make it that way. Partly because I was making it for 12 people and I don’t have a fryer that large, but also because my dad has heart problems…and frying chicken wrapped butter just seemed too much. I mean, I wanted to make him his favorite, but I also want to have him around for many many more birthdays. [Read more…]

“Jessicas” – Meringue Mushrooms

Ok, I know – the title of this post made you go “WHAT?!”. I’ll totally admit that I never would have tried this recipe on a title only description. A unique set of circumstances led me to make these – and I’m really glad I did.

Today I made some banana cream pies and as a result of using 10 egg yolks, had a TON of egg whites to get rid of. My family is coming over tomorrow for a birthday dinner for my Dad – and my sister Jessica has Celiac Disease. Which means a whole lot of lousy stuff for her, but the biggest impact for me is that she cannot eat gluten. That stuff is in EVERYTHING! She doesn’t get to eat the pies because of the crust. Sadness. Obviously I can’t leave her out in no-dessert land all alone. So I decided to make her favorite, meringues. While looking up recipes for the little puffs of sugar and egg whites, I found this odd little recipe title. It intrigued me. Then I saw a photo of a completed “mushroom” and I was sold. I decided to name them after my sister because it combines two of her most favorite foods in the entire world. Mushrooms, and meringues. Go figure that I’d be able to make them together! Maybe I’ll tie them in to my dad’s party tomorrow with a little note next to them that says “Dad is sure a fun guy”. Get it? I know, I will never make it in life as a comedian. [Read more…]

30 Day Shred – Day 7

One week down. What’s amazing to me is that with Jillian’s 30 Day Shred, the time I spent working out this week – the entire week – equals about the length of time I used to spend in two workouts at the gym. I wasn’t super careful about my food this week. Aside from trying to eat breakfast every day (mostly successful), I didn’t much change my eating. I had a girls night with my sisters where I ate junk and a lot of it – I also may have consumed some high calorie, zero nutrient, mucho alcoholic beverages that night. Perhaps. I ate pretty sensibly at lunch and dinner most of the week. But I enjoyed Pumpkin Eggnog Bread Pudding for dessert twice this week, and had a piece of Flourless Double Chocolate Truffle and a couple Zacharies during the course of the week. And I’m still down over 2 pounds.

Seriously? Working out only a little over two hours the whole week and I dropped that much? Now, two pounds may not seem like that much — but to me, that’s huge! Especially considering I would have to spend 10+ hours at the Y in a week and be pretty careful of my food intake in order to lose that kind of weight.  Also, I’m feeling a ton stronger already, I can see that my arms and shoulders are going to be really nicely defined by the end of this month. And my abs haven’t stopped hurting in a week. That’s gotta be a good sign! [Read more…]

“Zacharies” – Super Peanutty Peanut Butter Cookies

It is a well documented fact that my husband (Zachary) is not a fan of sweet things. Cookies, cakes, fudge, candy – none of it tempts him. It drives me crazy. However, even his lack of a sweet tooth cannot resist my peanut butter cookies. Probably because they are so nutty and awesome, rather than being just something sweet. There are a couple keys to a great peanut butter cookie. First of all, extra super chunk peanut butter is a must. Mine also have a full cup of chopped peanuts – imagine that, actual peanuts in a peanutty cookie. Secondly, make sure you take these cookies out when the edges are just starting to golden. They won’t look done, but trust me, if you want a soft cookie – take them out of the oven.

"Zacharies"

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Netbook Equals More Blogging

Fantastic! Got a netbook from Santa today and I have high hopes that the new (adorable) pink computer will equate to many more blogs in the future. Part of my problem recently is that playing with my kiddos requires my presence in the playroom – which is a full floor away from the computer. Not very conducive to blogging. No, not at all.

I had a completely wonderful Christmas today. Enjoyed my three-year old’s excitement over her new bike, laughed at her equally thrilled expression upon opening her 4 inch tall Strawberry Shortcake doll, kept many cookies away from my little boy, indulged in a few (mmmmm Oreo Truffles) myself, watched my dad and husband play numerous games of pool, conversed with my mom in the kitchen like days of old, was showered with gifts too wonderful and plentiful while basking in the warmth of my family’s love and company. [Read more…]

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